STL Science Center

STL Science Center

26 November 2014

Ribs and Noses

©Dmitry Bogdanov
Megacerops is, as we have seen, very open faced, skeletally, on the rostral end of the animal. In life, of course, this is not the case at all. That open area is filled with the nasal sinuses and conchae that would have been required by the animal to detect smells sufficiently and to warm the air that it breathed. In colder times of the year this was obviously of great import as cold air in the lungs brings the temperature of the body core down; though being such a large animal to begin with breathing cold air was probably not very dangerous to the temperature of the animal. More interesting topics abound in that nasal area of the skull. We have noted the horns and how they could be used in combat at a pinch, but were they actually of any use? Fossils indicate that damage to the ribs of some larger males could only have been inflicted by other members of the species during ramming contests with the horns. These fractures did not heal properly, if at all, because of the large movements occurring during breathing.

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